Get up close and personal with 4 designer dads, who have colorful stories to share about fatherhood and the best thing about being a dad.
Parenthood comes in many forms. Some have children by choice, some by chance, and others—simply by fate. Here are 4 Filipino designers whose destinies have been changed, and in turn, have changed the lives of their children by becoming fathers or father figures.
AVEL BACUDIO: EVP of the Fashion and Design Council 2021, Mercedes Benz Asia’s Most Influential Designer 2014, and Papa to Marijah “Avjah” Felixia
“I’ve been taking care of Avjah since birth. She is the only daughter of my younger sister Jayjette and her husband Felix,” narrates Avel Bacudio, an affable designer. “When she was a baby, ako ang tagatimpla ng gatas at tagahele pag iiyak siya. I was also the one who nicknamed her Avjah (a play on Avel’s nickname Ava). She calls me Papa and her biological father Daddy.”
Careful not to overstep his boundaries, Avel plays the role of a doting, nurturing dad, and leaves the disciplining to the girl’s parents. He loves to shop for her and would often surprise his niece with different outfits. During the pandemic, however, Avjah’s family moved to Tagaytay. This made Avel a bit sad, but he and Avjah make up for the temporary time apart by chatting every day via video call.
What’s the best thing about being a dad?
Avel says that it’s being able to share his blessings—knowing that in his later years, Jayjette and Avjah will be there to take care of him. They’ve made that promise very early on after all.
After some musing, he adds: “I also wish that, in the future, Avjah will be fluent in Spanish and French. I’ve attended elite fashion schools abroad and when I hear people talking in a different language, my impression is that these people have it all. That’s my dream—for Avjah to be successful in whatever she chooses to do.”
NOEL CRISOSTOMO: Visionary Awardee for Canada’s Philippine Fashion Week 2014, Fashion Designer, and Papa to Argo
Designer couple Noel Crisostomo and Roland Alzate have always wanted a child. “At first, I was hoping for a girl. But Argo came and our lives changed completely. We were thrilled to have a baby!” shared Noel.
The first-time parents then decided to forego having a nanny in their son’s first year. They did everything—from bathing to feeding, changing diapers, and putting their son to sleep. “Parenthood made us pause and reevaluate. The constant going out with friends, impromptu travels to London and Hong Kong, and even the shopping sprees—all [that] had to take a backseat [when we took on] our new roles as fathers.”
What are some challenges and fears that you have?
“Now that Argo is three, he has so much energy, so keeping up with him is a daily challenge,” Noel shares. “[But] the rewards of being a parent though makes everything worthwhile.”
“There are times when I’m busy upstairs or have to leave the house and when he would see me, he would run into my arms and say, ‘Papa, I miss you so much! Where have you been?’ Those are the moments I live for. It just melts my heart to hear my little boy say that.”
“All parents are naturally protective of their kids,” Noel explains. “I’m afraid that he’ll get into the wrong crowd. Argo is such a good boy and I pray that he’ll practice all the values we have taught him. [As for] my Father’s Day wish? I want to be the best dad to my son—the [same] way my father was to me.”
ADANTE LEYESA: Treasurer of Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines 2021 (FDCP), Bag and Accessory Designer, and Mentor to JR
Taking care of kids is nothing new to Adante Leyesa. Over the years, he has helped rear relatives who are now grown up and pursuing different careers. But when his mother—a widow—took on the role as guardian to his 7-year old nephew, he quickly stepped in and assumed responsibility for the boy.
“My partner Leo and I agreed to raise JR as our own,” Adante explains. “We had a rocky start, to say the least. I’ve always been a disciplinarian, while RJ came from a dysfunctional background, so adjustments had to be made. Last year, he was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome (a form of kidney disease) and that’s when our family dynamics changed.”
Adante adds, sighing in relief: “[Thankfully], the earlier confusion (and resentment) of living with two new dads was replaced with appreciation on JR’s part.”
It dawned on Adante that he was once in the same shoes as this boy. He felt unloved and was abandoned by his own father, who died when he was just 13. Thus, with resolve, he says: “Immediately, I vowed to do everything humanly possible to give him a better future.”
How did your relationship improve?
The pandemic has also brought Tito Adante and RJ much closer. “I want him to excel in school, so I tutor him daily. I only allow him to use gadgets if it’s needed for homework,” he explains. “He’s interested in the arts, so I encourage him to draw and do sketches. He [also] likes to watch me work in my studio. [I think that] this boy might just be an artist in the future, too,” enthused the designer.
When asked why RJ does not address him as papa or daddy, Adante shares quietly, “I look forward to the day when he will call me dad—without confusion or pressure. In the meantime, I am striving to fulfill all my duties as a parent so I can be worthy of that title.”
For now, it’s RJ’s health that takes priority. Adante prepares all his food—as any salty or sugary meal can land him back in the hospital. “I am praying for a miracle for my boy. [After all], I want him to lead a long, happy, and healthy life.
EDGAR SAN DIEGO: Fashion Designer, Painter, and Dad to Ana “Abby” Barbara
Edgar San Diego had a baby wishlist. He wanted a beautiful, healthy, and intelligent daughter. Thankfully, God blessed him with his heart’s desires. “I got Abby from a maternity clinic owned by my cousin [and] I never hid the fact from her that she is adopted. I stood as her father from day one and she has never asked to look for her biological parents.”
Growing up in a big, happy family, Edgar knew that his child would be loved. “[My] mom was caring, but my dad was strict. [Thus], I applied what I learned from them in rearing Abby. Since we lived in a compound, the entire clan helped me in raising her.”
“What a good kid she turned out to be! Being of Arab descent, the only problem she’s ever given me is finding the right hair products to detangle her curly hair!” Edgar shares.
What are your hopes and dreams for your daughter?
Aside from the change in lifestyle, legalizing the adoption of Abby posed a challenge. When the court finally granted the petition, it was the happiest day for both dad and daughter. “She became legally mine and Abby felt secure that she truly belonged to the San Diego family.”
Abby is now 22, employed, and her dad’s living doll, 24/7. She is also daddy’s favorite muse in his paintings. “Someday, I wish that my daughter will find a good husband and have a family of her own. [If] God [is] willing, I hope to witness that stage and to enjoy [spending time with] my future grandchildren.”
Cheers to all the wonderful dads! May you be blessed more and more!
Wife, fierce mom to two sharp-witted kids, corporate lawyer, passionate writer, bibliophile, world wanderer, and fashion enthusiast – these are just some of the hats that Paulyne wears. She’s most comfortable, though, in her invisible tiara, which empowers her to conquer the world. Catch a glimpse of The Busy Queen P’s life as she shares her adventures in parenting and beyond.
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